The artist Frida Kahlo (Mexican, 1907–1954) is today an iconic figure, known as much for her intensely personal artwork as for her striking appearance. Kahlo began to paint while recovering from a nearly fatal bus accident in 1925, which left her with lasting medical complications, chronic pain, and made it impossible for her to bear children. Kahlo famously married the Mexican muralist Diego Rivera (1886–1957) in 1929. Their union was unconventional—they in fact divorced briefly in 1939—but they were both deeply interested in their art and revolutionary politics. Many of Kahlo’s approximately 200 paintings deal with themes of disability, gender, politics, and identity. Her paintings elude definition. Often associated with Surrealism, Kahlo herself resisted that categorization, stating that her paintings were “the frankest expression of [her]self.” Upon her death in 1954, Rivera and their close friend Dolores Olmedo requested that her personal artifacts be locked away in her childhood home, La Casa Azul, in Coyoacán, near Mexico City. Today, La Casa Azul houses the Frida Kahlo Museum—it was the museum staff who rediscovered the remarkable trove of personal artifacts that form the basis of the exhibition.
March 21, 2020 – July 26, 2020
March 21, 2020 – July 26, 2020
Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving
Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving examines how politics, gender, disability, and national identity influenced Kahlo’s diverse modes of creativity. The exhibition features highly personal items, which came to light in 2004 at her lifelong home, La Casa Azul (now Museo Frida Kahlo) in Mexico City—including approximately 30 photographs, 20 vibrant Tehuana costumes from her wardrobe, and personalized braces and prosthetics—alongside paintings and drawings by the artist and photographs reflecting her iconic style. Frida Kahlo’s oeuvre deals with many topics that were not only significant to the artist but are still relevant today.
This extraordinary exhibition provides the Bay Area community and other museum visitors the opportunity to explore how Kahlo constructed her identity through self-fashioning with Tehuana dress and accessories, focusing on themes of disability and ethnicity, both in her life and in her art. The de Young is a particularly significant venue for this exhibition as Kahlo spent time in San Francisco with her husband, Diego Rivera, first in 1930–1931 and again in 1940. The city was special to her, both personally and artistically. This exhibition complements the Fine Arts Museums' holdings and will feature modern and pre-Hispanic Mexican artworks from the museums' collection.
Tickets will be available for members to reserve in late November, and for the general public in early December. Not a member? Join now and see Frida Kahlo and all other special exhibitions for free!
This exhibition is organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. It is inspired by an exhibition at the V&A London. Presenting Sponsors: John A. and Cynthia Fry Gunn and Diane B. Wilsey. With special thanks to the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes y Literatura and the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia.